Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1992
First, a first a short bio of the author: “In addition to his teaching responsibilities at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Ronald Allen (DOB 5/29/41) preaches in churches across the country, speaks at Bible conferences, regularly leads study tours in Israel, Turkey, and Greece, and has been a biblical and theological consultant for Maranatha! Music. He has written a dozen books; was one of the senior editors for The New King James Version; Old Testament; and was the Old Testament editor for both The Nelson Study Bible (also known as The New King James Study Bible) and The Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary.
Books, like life, have surprises. I knew I would find this study of the Psalms rich and worshipful, but there was something that touched me even more when I got near the end of the book. More on that later.
This well illustrated and easy to read book divides neatly into two parts: the first on background information to help the reader understand the Psalms, and the second an expositional study with application of a few selected Psalms. This second section can be helpful in our personal devotions, as well as in teaching the Psalms.
The study guide at the end also makes the book useful in our personal quiet time or in a small group study. The questions lend themselves to thought, discussion, and practical application of what is taught in each chapter. The “Selected Bibliography” includes a dozen well-chosen books that could be consulted for further study.
PART ONE: GETTING TO KNOW THE PSALMS
Chapter 1 The Psalms: A Universal Favorite
Chapter 2 What Is a Psalm?
Chapter 3 How Is a Psalm”
Chapter 4 Poetry – The Language of the Psalms
Chapter 5 Praise – The Center of the Psalms
Chapter 6 Praise on Target
Chapter 7 How Did We Get the Psalms?
PART TWO: ENJOYING THE PSALMS
Chapter 8 Psalm 113: Hallelujah! The Will of God for You
Chapter 9 Psalm 19: The Wonder of the Word
Chapter 10 Psalm 13: When God Seems Far Away
Chapter 11 Psalm 138: Why Pray
Chapter 12 Psalm 142: A Shriek or a Prayer?
Chapter 13 Psalm 65: When Creation Sings
Chapter 14 Psalm 146: While I Live
Chapter 15 Rachel – God’s Lamb
Chapter 16 Coda: The Breath of Life
Despite all the good biblical instruction in this book, what impacted me the most was the story in chapter 15, just thirteen pages. It’s about Dr. Allen and his wife Beverly almost losing to acute lymphoblastic leukemia their twenty-one month old daughter Rachel in 1979. As you can imagine, this was an incredibly hard time in their lives. The author writes vulnerably about what they experienced. Ultimately, it gave him a chance to practice what he preached. He had studied Psalm 146 in great detail and grown to love it, but this incident taught him personally that it is folly to place our ultimate hope in any one less than our great God (Psalm 146:3-4.)
Let me close with the last paragraph of the book.
Praise is a matter of life and breath. Won’t you join me in a renewed commitment to a life of praising God? A life lived without the praise of God is not really a life worth living. We were created, purposed, redeemed, and blessed “to the praise of His glory.” Our chief end as Spirit-led believers in the Lord Jesus Christ is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. It is only by a life of praise that we may respond properly to our always faithful God.